A sympathetic, exciting portrait of both American and Japanese warriors caught up in “targeted-kill operations.”




An evenhanded history of the hunt for the mastermind of the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.

Nearly a year and a half after the U.S. declared war on Japan, the Army Air Forces would finally catch up with Japanese Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto, commander in chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy, in the skies over the then-Japanese-held islands of Rabaul and Bougainville. Lehr—a professor of journalism at Boston University who has written two books on Whitey Bulger—weaves together two touching stories: the tale of Maj. John Mitchell, who was an ace flyboy chosen to lead the mission, homesick for his new bride, as well as the story of Mitchell’s team; and the chronicle of Yamamoto, who, as a young cadet, had seen his country prevail against the Russians in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904 and became a forward-thinking officer who attended Harvard, worked two postings in Washington, D.C., and—significantly—grasped that aircraft carriers were the weapon of the future. Yamamoto also “sensed…from a mix of press accounts and military intelligence, that the United States was waking up—that following the deadly Pearl Harbor debacle, instead of curling up into a fetal position, she was climbing to her feet, raring to fight and seek vengeance. [He] had no way of knowing its full extent, but the winter of 1942 saw the [U.S.] hastily and effectively establish its wartime footing.” By 1943, he was nearing 60, with a wife and children as well as a longtime geisha lover to whom he wrote passionate letters. Refreshingly, Lehr gets beyond the hate-filled, racist propaganda on both sides to give an honest appraisal of the protagonists, especially Yamamoto, whose logic in attacking Pearl Harbor was to “induce [America] to settle for peace with Japan.” Once the Americans cracked the Japanese code, Midway became “Yamamoto’s lament.”

A sympathetic, exciting portrait of both American and Japanese warriors caught up in “targeted-kill operations.” (b/w photos)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-244851-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.


An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet